Definitions for motiveˈmoʊ tɪv

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word motive

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

mo•tive*ˈmoʊ tɪv(n.; adj.; v.)-tived, -tiv•ing.

  1. (n.)something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive.

  2. the goal or object of a person's actions:

    Her motive was revenge.

  3. Ref: motif (def. 1). 1

  4. (adj.)causing or tending to cause motion.

  5. pertaining to motion.

  6. prompting to action.

  7. constituting a motive or motives.

  8. Ref: motivate.

* Syn: motive , inducement , incentive apply to something that prompts a person to action. motive is usu. applied to an inner urge that moves a person; it may also apply to a contemplated goal, the desire for which moves the person: Her motive was a wish to help. Money was the motive for the crime. inducement is used mainly of opportunities offered by another person or by situational factors: The salary they offered me was a great inducement.incentive is usu. applied to something offered as a reward or to stimulate competitive activity: Profit sharing is an incentive for employees.

Origin of motive:

1325–75; (< MF motif) < ML mōtīvus serving to move = L mōt(us) (ptp. of movēre to move ) +-īvus -ive


Princeton's WordNet

  1. motivation, motive, need(noun)

    the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior

    "we did not understand his motivation"; "he acted with the best of motives"

  2. motif, motive(noun)

    a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music

  3. motif, motive(adj)

    a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration

  4. motive(a), motor(adj)

    causing or able to cause motion

    "a motive force"; "motive power"; "motor energy"

  5. motivative(a), motive(a), motivating(adj)

    impelling to action

    "it may well be that ethical language has primarily a motivative function"- Arthur Pap; "motive pleas"; "motivating arguments"

Kernerman English Learner's Dictionary

  1. motive(noun)ˈmoʊ tɪv

    a reason for doing sth

    The motive for the crime remains a mystery.


  1. motive(Noun)

    An incentive to act; a reason for doing something; anything that prompted a choice of action.

  2. motive(Noun)

    A motif; a theme or subject, especially one that is central to the work or often repeated.

    If you listen carefully, you can hear the flutes mimicking the cello motive.

  3. motive(Verb)

    To prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move.

  4. motive(Adjective)

    Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power.

  5. motive(Adjective)

    Relating to motion and/or to its cause

Webster Dictionary

  1. Motive(noun)

    that which moves; a mover

  2. Motive(noun)

    that which incites to action; anything prompting or exciting to choise, or moving the will; cause; reason; inducement; object

  3. Motive(noun)

    the theme or subject; a leading phrase or passage which is reproduced and varied through the course of a comor a movement; a short figure, or melodic germ, out of which a whole movement is develpoed. See also Leading motive, under Leading

  4. Motive(noun)

    that which produces conception, invention, or creation in the mind of the artist in undertaking his subject; the guiding or controlling idea manifested in a work of art, or any part of one

  5. Motive(adj)

    causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power

  6. Motive(verb)

    to prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move


  1. Motive

    A motive, in law, especially criminal law, is the cause that moves people to induce a certain action. Motive, in itself, is not an element of any given crime; however, the legal system typically allows motive to be proven in order to make plausible the accused's reasons for committing a crime, at least when those motives may be obscure or hard to identify with. The law technically distinguishes between motive and intent. "Intent" in criminal law is synonymous with mens rea, which means no more than the specific mental purpose to perform a deed that is forbidden by a criminal statute, or the reckless disregard of whether the law will be violated. "Motive" describes instead the reasons in the accused's background and station in life that are supposed to have induced the crime. Motive is particularly important in prosecutions for homicide. First, murder is so drastic a crime that most people recoil from the thought of being able to do it; proof of motive explains why the accused did so desperate an act. Moreover, most common law jurisdictions have statutes that provide for degrees of homicide, based in part on the accused's mental state. The lesser offence of voluntary manslaughter, for example, traditionally required that the accused knowingly and voluntarily kill the victim; in addition, it must be shown that the killing took place in the "sudden heat of passion," an excess of rage or anger coming from a contemporary provocation, which clouded the accused's judgment. Homicides motivated by such factors are a lesser offense than murder "in cold blood."

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'motive' in Nouns Frequency: #1796

Translations for motive

Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary


something that makes a person choose to act in a particular way; a reason

What was his motive for murdering the old lady?

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